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You Know Why – Escondido’s War with Hispanics

Updated on June 16, 2015

“Charge them all, convict and deport.”

“I hope his mother gets deported.”

“They should have gotten the Rodney King treatment…”

“In any other country they would most likely have been shot in the car...and these 2 should have been.”

The above are written statements that were posted in my local paper by residents of Escondido, commenting on a story about two young men who drove through a DUI/Driver’s License checkpoint and refused to roll the window all the way down and show identification.

These two young men happen to be Hispanic.

Escondido has a long history of bigotry and hatred for anyone who happens to have brown skin.

In 2004, Escondido began holding checkpoints during the early morning and afternoon hours, and the checkpoint locations would often occur in front of schools.

These checkpoints were not designed to target intoxicated drivers; rather, they were designed to screen people for driver’s licenses. In California, and dozens of other states, illegal immigrants are unable to obtain driver’s licenses.

These checkpoints were embraced by many in Escondido as a means of deporting illegal immigrants. Escondido quickly found that by holding these checkpoints, not only would illegal immigrants be removed, but the vehicles would generate revenue for the city from impounds.

Escondido's Rental Ban

In 2006, Escondido passed an ordinance that would require landlords to check immigration status. If it was found that the renter was not a US citizen, landlords would be required to remove the renter within five days or be faced with penalties to include a revocation of their business licenses and misdemeanor charges. Escondido’s city council members would require that landlords act as ICE agents or face life-changing consequences.

When this ordinance passed, Minutemen held a victory rally, and a large population of Escondido residents joined in the celebration.

The ordinance was pulled shortly after the ACLU filed a lawsuit. It was going to be too costly for the city to defend and enforce.

Ordinances and Resolutions

Some ordinances and resolutions targeting Hispanics have been passed since then: ordinances that mandate how many vehicles are allowed to be parked at a residence; resolutions proclaiming Escondido business owners and residents will not aide and abet illegal immigrants by giving them jobs, giving them food, giving them clothes, giving them money, or giving them housing.

For the most part, these ordinances are not put in writing anymore. This way, there is no proof that Escondido's policy makers are targeting Hispanics.


Because of scrutiny and criticism from surrounding cities, and because Escondido has had its share of national attention from the rental ban, Escondido has hush-hush, unwritten policies targeting Hispanics.

The Escondido Police Department has had a long-standing working relationship with ICE well before there were official programs in place across the country. Currently the working relationship between ICE and the Escondido Police Department is officially called a “pilot program”. This is because there really is no other way to describe what is occurring. There are no policies in place, and there are no supervisors to report to other than the long-serving city council members and the Chief of Police, Jim Maher.

In Escondido there are a number of unmarked SUVs that drive around town. These SUVs have tinted windows and no license plates. Every so often residents will be able to see these SUVs parked alongside of the road and watch an interrogation of a motorist. These motorists always have brown skin. Because the vehicles driven by ICE are unmarked and do not utilize any sort of flashing lights, the interrogations do not attract attention, and it looks like a very informal encounter between two parties, but this is not the case at all.

Additionally, encounters between police and motorists via checkpoints conducted in the morning, the afternoon and the evening will sometimes result in ICE agents paying a visit to someone’s home and making an arrest.

I feel that it is very important to have explained the history of Escondido. People who are unfamiliar with Escondido might view this incident as a complete disregard of authority or non-compliance. The fact of the matter is, there are extreme problems in the city of Escondido, have been for years, and there needs to be some sort of intervention in Escondido to make this endless abuse of power practiced by all city officials cease. There is a portion of the community that is fed up with mistreatment and unwritten policies that separate and divide the community by race.

“You Know Why”

On the evening of February 11, 2011, two young, Hispanic men drove to a checkpoint and filmed the encounter with police. At 2:14 into the video, an officer asks the driver to roll the window all the way down. The driver responds by saying that he can hear him just fine. Another order was given to roll down the window, and the driver asks why. At 2:20, six seconds after conversation began, the officer threatens to break the window.

It took six seconds for an officer to tell a brown motorist the window would be broken.

At this point in time, there had been no request for identification or inquiries about drinking alcohol.

At 2:40 into the video, another officer approaches and indicates that they have entered a sobriety checkpoint and IDs need to be checked. It is worthy to note that passengers are not required to show identification, by law.

After an attempt to open the driver’s side door by an officer, an order is given to break the window. The passenger informs the police that the encounter is being recorded, and efforts to break the window are stopped, temporarily.

At five minutes into the footage, the two men inquire as to why, at a sobriety checkpoint, they need to show identification, and an officer responds with, “You know why.”

Footage Released

Everyone Knows Why

You won’t find many residents of Escondido who don’t openly admit what is happening in the city. This is true regardless of skin color. While the KKK is famous for hiding underneath a white hood, there aren’t many residents in Escondido who feel the need to hide at all. There is just too much support from people, urging the police to round up all the brown people and deport them, regardless of citizenship. It doesn’t seem to matter if a brown person was born in the United States. It doesn’t seem to matter if a brown person is here legitimately. If you have brown skin in Escondido, you just need to get the hell out.

There seems to be no shame in openly admitting that Hispanics are the constant target by the police in this city, and admitting it with pride. There seems to be no shame in applauding the police department and urging them to seek out “Jose’s, Jesus’s and Rose’s”, as one blogger wrote when referring to Hispanics. There seems to be no shame in accusing every brown person of being an illegal immigrant. There seems to be no shame in yelling out a car window, “Go back to Mexico!” to the person walking down the street who has brown skin.

The only people not openly admitting that Hispanics are targeted by the police are the city officials who make these policies and the police department, but, every once in a while, you might hear someone say:

You know why.


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    • Deni Edwards profile image

      Deni Edwards 6 years ago from california

      You are absolutely correct that the law is the law...the only thing that you seem to be missing is that our laws, and our constitution, applies to everyone who is here in this country--regardless of having papers or not.

    • profile image

      Me 6 years ago

      Please excuse my research and knowledge on the FACTS regarding this, but I must point out that the law is the law regardless of what race you are, and to be quite frank on the term 'illegal' is placed before immigrants in this story hub. Illegal is illegal-means breaking the law. This comment I am posting to this story falls under the civil rights; freedom of speech. Please refer to your dictionaries.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      There is no justification for racism. People are people regardless of the color of their skins. Illegal immigrants, however, can cause a lot of problems, inter alia xenophobia. To try to prevent these problems when those in power are corrupt is totally impossible. I guess only a horrible disaster will lead to “some sort” of intervention in the governing affairs of Escondido. We have the same kind of problems in my country, but more complicated. Our government calls it ‘challenges’.

    • profile image

      Concerned 6 years ago

      according to some posters people should do everything the police say to do inst that a police state? we are not under Marshall law. some comments such as if you don't like it here go back to were you came from are really useless and ignorant.

      1. officer didn't provide badge number and name when requested

      2. an officer recognized one of them and said oh they learned to lock their door.

      3. right away the cop starts making threats

      4. the cop never gives a reason for being detained

      are we now trending towards a police state were poeples rights living in this country are being violated by the police and the government.